And the answer is….A Klingsor gramophone, well done to those of you who answered correctly!
And the answer is….A Klingsor gramophone, well done to those of you who answered correctly!
Name: William Barry Owen
Born: 15 April 1860
Resident: Born in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts
Occupation: Sent to London to raise investment funds for the Gramophone Company to expand into Europe
Loves: Music, Musicians, Gambling, London high society parties
In July 1897 William Barry Owen resigned from his post with the National Gramophone Company in the United States and sailed for Britain. He was sent by Emile Berliner, inventor of the Gramophone and flat disc to set up the company in England and find investors. When he arrived he met a young Welsh lawyer; Trevor Lloyd Williams who became his co-founder of The British Gramophone Company in 1899.
Owen was an excellent sales man, having refined his selling talents as a sales man during his law degree at Amherst College. He was also a gambler who enjoyed the high stakes of starting up new ventures and more importantly he enjoyed living the high life that could be achieved if successful and so he jumped at the potential high profits in Berliner’s new Gramophone.
Initially he threw himself into the work but found high society London to be a tough crowd to crack, the Gramophones were selling but he found it difficult to attract investors to help build the business. It was his idea to bring in the Lambert Typewriter as an insurance product in case the Gramophone flopped. However, as fate would have it, the Lambert typewriter failed to bring in much revenue and The Gramophone Company stopped production in 1904. At this point Owen seemed to loose interest in the business, he remained on the board for two more years and then left The Gramophone Company altogether in 1906.
After resigning he left Britain and returned home to the United States where he made several unsuccessful attempts in the agricultural business. By 1910 he had spent all of his money and was riddled with debt. He spent the rest of his life living off a pension paid jointly by Victor Talking Machine and The Gramophone Company.
By Roger Neil
It seemed to me that the emerging lists were filled with the usual suspects, and since I’m currently in the process (with Tony Locantro) of finishing up a 4 x CD set for Decca Australia entitled ‘From Melba to Sutherland: Australian Singers on Record’, this is the list I offered:
What a team. Other nominations?
If you have loved this article by Roger Neil you can find more articles on the Official Roger Neil blog.
To those who got it right, well done!
This is an experimental Digital Desk from around 1980. This is the work surface and there were also 3 full sized racks of machinery to do all the processing. It was built by EMI’s Central Research Laboratories. Read this extract from the Audio Engineering Society to find out more.
What’s this then?
Deep in the vaults of the EMI Archive lies a mysterious Ghostly Gramophone player. Despite laying dormant for many years, while showing visitors around the collection an unsuspecting intern and her guests witnessed the turn table revolving. The gramophone in question in not electric, no one had touched it and the winding mechanism is frozen.
We have video footage of the guests looking curiously at the turn table as the turn table continues to turn unassisted!
Is this paranormal activity or do you have a more scientific explanation?
Special thanks to Danielle Burgess, Kevin Bell and Dev Ruprai.
Frederick William Gaisberg 1873 – 1951
“Fred was clearly one of those Children with a natural talent for the keyboard, and his mother made the most of this opportunity from the moment she began to teach him when he was four.”
-Extract from ‘A Voice in Time’ – Jerrold Northrop Moore
Name: Frederick William Gaisberg
Born: 1 January 1873
Resident: Born in Washington DC, immigrated to the United Kingdom as a young man of only 25 in 1898
Occupation: Sound Recording Engineer, A&R Supreme
Loves: Travelling, musicians, engineering
Fred Gaisberg’s love affair with music began at the early age of just four. From the age of eight until his voice broke Fred was a chorister at St John’s Episcopal Church, here he met and studied under one of Washington’s most celebrated artists of the time – the young master of the United States Marine Band, John Philip Sousa.
“I attended rehearsals in his then modest home in the Navy Yard in South Washington. He (Sousa) patted me on the head and made quite a pet of me… I was one of those music-mad youngsters who hovered by his podium and never missed a concert.”
-Fred Gaisberg recalling his childhood
Although he was an excellent singer, the piano remained his first love and after securing a scholarship to study piano he gained a reputation for his excellent playing and accompanying and was soon playing for charitable organisations and amateur organisation throughout the city. In 1889 in search of some more pocket money, the sixteen year old Gaisberg came across an advert for the Columbia Phonograph Company. They were looking for someone to play the piano loudly and clearly enough for its sounds to be captured by the apparatus as the accompaniment for a musician to record.
One of the first musicians selected to record with Gaisberg was John York Atlee, a Whistler. Together they would churn out in three’s countless records of performances of ‘Whistling Coon’, ‘Mocking Bird’, and the ‘Laughing Song’. These recordings were made on small hollow cylinders of wax, where a needle moved gradually in a lateral way etching the grooves that represented the sound waves into the wax.
Fred Gaisberg secured his first job working at the Columbia Phonograph Company. He spent the next few years working for various people within the growing phonograph industry, including Thomas Edison.
In 1894 he met Emile Berliner and his career took on a new direction. His fascination with Berliner’s novel recording process was the start of his career change from an accompanying pianist to a recording sound engineer. Very soon after meeting and working under Berliner, Gaisberg was sent to London to record music for the European market, working with Trevor Lloyd Williams and William Barry Owen.
Once he reached London he was introduced to another sound engineer – Sinkler Derby and together they continued to travel all over the world recording local music for the ever expanding Gramophone Company. His travels are well documented in “The Fred Gaisberg Diaries” which have been made available by Hugo Strötbaum. Fred Gaisberg was without a doubt one of the single biggest contributors to the success of the Gramophone Company. More details on exactly what he got up to can be found in our Gaisberg Travels blog series.
Occupation: Posing for paintings, attacking Gramophones, looking for His Masters Voice
Loves: Being a world famous icon, treats
Francis Barraud’s painting of a fox terrier to an early gramophone remains one of the oldest and best-known of trademarks and records logos. It was a brilliantly conceived piece of commercial art that has become one of the worlds most recognised trade marks.
Nipper was a stray dog found by Mark Barraud (Francis Barraud’s brother) in 1884. He was called Nipper because he a habit of nipping at the back legs of any visitors. Nipper became Francis’ pet three years later when Mark died. The iconic ‘His Master’s Voice’ painting was made some time before 1899, although in the original Nipper was listening to an Edison phonograph.
On May 31, 1899, Barraud went to the Maiden Lane offices of The Gramophone Company with the intention of borrowing a brass horn to replace the original black horn on the painting. Manager William Barry Owen suggested that if the artist replaced the machine with a Berliner disc gramophone the Company would buy the painting. Since then Nipper has been the face of a huge global brand the ‘His Master’s Voice’ painting is one of the most recognised trademarks in the world.
Francis Barraud 1856 – 1924
“The whole world saw it and succumbed to its charm”
-Alfred Clark comments on the painting
Name: Francis Barraud
Born: June 16, 1856
Resident: Born in London
Occupation: Artist, Painter, stray dog lover
Loves: Painting, animals
Francis James Barraud was born into a family of artists in London. He studied art at the Royal Academy School and in Antwerp. An accomplished technician, he was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and else where. One of his early works An encore Too Many is displayed in the Liverpool Walker Art Gallery, and the painting His Master’s Voice brought him world wide fame.
Barraud was never to recapture that success, however and by 1913 he was in financial straits. When he learned of this situation Alfred Clark commissioned Barraud to paint a copy of His Master’s Voice for the Victor Company. Thereafter, Barraud painted a total of 24 copies of his most famous work. In recognition of these services, the Gramophone and Victor Companies paid Barraud a pension. His Master’s Voice remains one of the world’s best-known trademarks.
Dr Martin Luther King’s I have a dream speech 50th anniversary
Fifty years ago today Martin Luther King gave his iconic I have a dream speech at the height of the American civil rights movement. The movement worked hard to bring about equal rights for black people living in the United States and globally.
The Gramophone Company had a long history of including music from world cultures in its repertoire beginning with taking early recordings of music from black communities descended from slaves in the United States, classical Indian musicians, Native American’s, South American, West African musicians as well as what is now considered western music from Europe and North America. As such it is no surprise that EMI became the proud owners of the copyright of the speech in 2009 in a deal with the King family.